|John Barclay Armstrong was a lieutenant in the Texas Rangers, a marshal, a rancher, and civic leader. But he is best remembered for capturing outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Hardin was wanted for killing Comanche County Deputy Charles Webb in May 1874. Armstrong arrested Hardin as he boarded a train in Florida and brought him back to Texas, where he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
Like many young men after the Civil War, Armstrong left his home in Tennessee to find his fortune in the West. He ended up in Austin and on April 1, 1875 joined McNelly's unit of the Texas Rangers, the oldest state law enforcement agency in the United States. The agency was formed by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 "for the common defense." Armstrong retired from the Rangers in 1878. After time in Austin, he began developing ranch land in South Texas and eventually owned one of the largest ranches in the Nueces Strip. Today, the ranch, near the railroad town of Armstrong, remains in the Armstrong family.
Texas Rangers and cattle barons are the stuff of which the Texas legend is made. John Barclay Armstrong's life captures both legends and stands for the strong men and women who built the state of Texas.
JUDY ALTER won the Texas Institute of Letters' Best Juvenile Award, The Children's Book Council's Outstanding Social Studies Book For Young Readers, and the Western Writers of America's Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award for her writing. She is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her latest titles are Henrietta King, Rancher and Philanthropist, Mirabeau B. Lamar: Second President of Texas, and Miriam "Ma" Ferguson: First Woman Governor of Texas. Ms. Alter lives in Fort Worth.